Over the span of two months, my family has lost two very important people. My grandma Pauley had a 5-7 year battle with Alzheimer’s, leaving her debilitated and unaware of her surroundings. There are many stories I could share about my time visiting her in institutions, listening to her tell stories, and watching Shirley Temple.
Early this morning my grandpa Pauley “Buddy” went to be with the Lord, to be with his wife in perfect bodies. He endured such a long and painful life; he was a tough man, but had a very tender heart. Even in my grandmother’s darkest hour, he was faithful in his love and his affection toward her. He was an abundantly free soul in spite of being paraplegic for most of his life. In many ways, I want to be just like him and pass on the legacy he established on this earth.
One of the last times I spoke with him in person, I was asking about our family history (otherwise known as genealogy). Do not take this lightly! Family history is such a precious thing; your past sets the trajectory of your future because it shapes the man or woman you will be. Cherish the time spent with and the lessons learned from family members. Cherish family this Christmas season because you do not know if this will be your last season together. Yesterday I was able to say one final goodbye to my grandfather. I shared a few sweet memories and a passage of scripture that I have committed to memory, verses I wish to share with you.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:2-5 ESV
Rich Mullins was a Christian songwriter, visionary, and anomaly in the 90’s. He unexpectedly passed away, but he highly valued family roots. In one of his biographies, he said “Until you come to terms with your heritage you’ll never be at peace with yourself.” His lyrics from “First Family” put it a little more poetically. “[My family] worked to give faith hands and feet, and somehow gave it wings.”
To conclude, I am still processing all of this. These are merely a few thoughts to digest this news. I want to encourage you: whatever pain you are in, there is a God greater than our pain. God loves you. This may be the last thing you want to hear because you need time to absorb the pain. But God doesn’t just love you; just like a Good Father, he longs to absorb your pain for you and replace with joy everlasting.
There are two books that have helped me get a broader of pain as well as family:
An Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith (Devotional Biography on the life of Rich Mullins). Quoted above on page 14. Available on Amazon.
Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power by Clayton King. He recently shared a sermon based on this book.